Robert Morris Completes Two-Game Sweep of Penn State Women’s Hockey
The Robert Morris Colonials (8-2, 2-0 CHA) dominated all phases of the game to finish off a two-game sweep of the Penn State Nittany Lions (2-6-1, 0-2 CHA) with a 6-0 shutout at Pegula Ice Arena on Friday afternoon.
The Nittany Lions put some pressure on Robert Morris goaltender Jessica Dodds early on by recording the first three shots on net, but the Colonials would gain control of the game soon after.
With 14:07 remaining in the opening period, RMU drew first blood, when captain Kristen Richards redirected an Anneline Lauziere shot, past Penn State netminder Celine Whitlinger. It was Richards’ second tally of the season, and it gave the Colonials an early 1-0 advantage.
Robert Morris continued to pepper Whitlinger and would break through again just past the midway point of the first period. Katie Fergus took the puck behind the net and delivered a centering pass to Anissa Gamble, who fired it past the unsuspecting Whitlinger for her third goal of the season to give RMU a 2-0 lead.
The Nittany Lions received a power play opportunity late in the first period, but they were unable to cash in. Robert Morris outshot Penn State 13-6 in the period, and even though the Nittany Lions’ goal-scoring struggles continued, head coach Josh Brandwene took some positives from his team’s offensive play.
“I thought our movement was good, I thought our puck possession was good,” Brandwene said. “A lot of things went well for us today, but the scoreboard certainly didn’t.”
Penn State put itself in a difficult position early on in the second period by giving the RMU offense a 5-on-3 advantage. With time winding down in the first PSU minor, Whitlinger looked to have made the highlight play of the game---and possibly the season---when she sprawled across the crease to rob Thea Imbrogno---who thought she had a slam-dunk goal---with an outstretched glove save.
However, the officials took another look at the play, and after a lengthy review, they determined that the puck had actually crossed the goal-line while it was in Whitlinger’s glove. They awarded Imbrogno with her fifth goal of the season, and RMU jumped out to a 3-0 lead.
Penn State picked up the pace a bit in the ensuing five minutes and managed to scrape together a few scoring opportunities, but Dodds turned them aside to keep the Nittany Lions off the scoreboard. Then, 11 minutes into the second period, Robert Morris center Rebecca Vint skated into prime scoring area uncontested and put the puck through Whitlinger’s five-hole, as her fifth tally of the season made it a 4-0 game.
Each side killed off a penalty in the final five minutes of the period, and the score remained 4-0 going into the second intermission. The Colonials outshot the Nittany Lions 18-8 in the second frame, but much like her head coach, Penn State’s Shannon Yoxmeimer was not disappointed in her team’s offensive effort.
“I think just sometimes the bounces aren’t happening,” Yoxheimer said. “They have a great goaltender, and we did have our chances, but it just wasn’t going our way.”
Coming back out of the locker room, RMU wasted little time adding on to its lead. Whitlinger managed to get a piece of a wrist shot off the stick of Ashley Vesci, but the puck slid through her equipment and trickled over the goal-line. Vesci’s goal was her second of the 2013-14 campaign, and it made the score 5-0 in favor of the Colonials.
With 1:35 to play, Robert Morris capped off the scoring when Richards lit the lamp for the second time in the game on a give-and-go from Brittany Howard. The Colonials outshot the Nittany Lions 18-8 for the second straight period and outscored Penn State 2-0 for the third straight period to leave State College with a comfortable 6-0 victory.
The triumph extended RMU’s win streak to five, and Brandwene was impressed not just by the Colonials’ talent level, but also by their intangibles.
“It’s part their effort, it’s part their hockey IQ, it’s part their skill and their chemistry,” he said. “They do a great job together.”
Robert Morris outshot Penn State 49-22 overall, which included a game-high 11 shots from Richards. Taylor Gross paced the Nittany Lions with six shots on net, but no PSU player could solve the freshman goaltender Dodds, who improved to 6-0 on the season and notched her third career shutout.
Penn State will wrap up its eight-game homestand with a two-game series against Syracuse next weekend, and RMU will return home to face off with No. 8 Mercyhurst for a two-game set.
Bradford Conners is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.